Heather Cox Richardson alerts us to three developments in the February 16, 2021 edition of Letters from an American.
I’m reordering them for reasons that you will see in a moment or two.
First up is the deep freeze in Texas, which overwhelmed the power grid and knocked out electricity for more than 3.5 million people, leaving them without heat. It has taken the lives of at least 23 people. Most of Texas is on its own power grid, a decision made in the 1930s to keep it clear of federal regulation. This means both that it avoids federal regulation and that it cannot import more electricity during periods of high demand.
Third, President Joe Biden held a televised town hall tonight to sell the idea of his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. He answered in detail questions about domestic insurrection, the minimum wage, white supremacy, coronavirus, and vaccines. But what stood out was an exchange between the president and the mother of a young man with health issues who cannot get on a list in Wisconsin to get the coronavirus vaccine. Biden told the woman that he could make recommendations to the states, but the order in which they chose to administer the vaccine was up to them. “But here’s what I’d like to do,” he continued. ”If you’re willing, I’ll stay around after this is over and maybe we can talk a few minutes and see if I can get you some help.”
But most interesting, to me this morning, is the second development (that might be part of a powerful trend). The message to those January 6 insurrectionists is this: we’re coming after your money.
Second, there was an interesting development today with regard to the January 6 insurrection. Representative Bennie Thompson (D-MS), in his personal capacity, not as a member of Congress, sued Donald Trump—in his personal capacity—Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani; Proud Boys International, LLC; and Oath Keepers. The lawsuit is backed by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and argues that these four people or entities each “intended to prevent, and ultimately delayed, members of Congress from discharging their duty commanded by the United States Constitution to approve the results of the Electoral College in order to elect the next President and Vice President of the United States.”
That language is significant. While the lawsuit lays out in detail the actions of the former president and Giuliani and the domestic terrorists in the lead-up to January 6, as well as the events of that day (making its 32 pages an excellent synopsis of the material the House impeachment managers laid out in the Senate trial), Thompson is making a very specific claim.
Thompson accuses the four defendants of “conspiring to prevent him and other Members of Congress from discharging… official duties.” This puts them afoul of the 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act, designed to break that deadly organization in the years after the Civil War when its members were intimidating and assaulting Black and white Republicans in the South. The law makes anyone who has “conspire[d] to prevent, by force, intimidation, or threat, any person from… discharging any duties [of an officer of the United States]” “liable to the party injured.”
Thompson points out that he is 72, within the age group hardest hit by the coronavirus, and the lockdown precautions put his health at risk. This speaks to the part of the law that calls out perpetrators who “injure [an officer] in his person or property on account of his lawful discharge of the duties of his office, or while engaged in the lawful discharge thereof… so as to molest, interrupt, hinder, or impede him in the discharge of his official duties.”
The law allows a successful plaintiff to claim money not only to make up for the damages the perpetrators caused, but also to punish the perpetrators and to try to warn others against trying anything similar. And that is what Thompson has asked for.
Thompson appears to be trying to defang the insurrectionists by going after their bank accounts. Bleeding white supremacist gangs dry through lawsuits has proved surprisingly effective in the past. In 1999, a lawsuit bankrupted the Idaho Aryan Nations white supremacists; in 2008, the Southern Poverty Law Center sued a Ku Klux Klan group in Kentucky and won a $2.5 million settlement. Going after Trump, Giuliani, and the organizations central to the January 6 insurrection by taking their money would likely make insurrectionists think twice before they tried such a thing again.
Here is another example of not just following, but taking, the money. Dominion Says It Will Sue MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell Over Election Fraud Claims. Dominion sent letters to Lindell in December and January demanding that he retract false claims about their machines. Instead, the MyPillow CEO doubled down.
MAGA diehard and pillow magnate Mike Lindell is the next target of a Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit over his wild claims about nonexistent election-fraud conspiracy, with the lead attorney representing Dominion telling The Daily Beast he expects to file the suit “imminently.”
Lindell, a staunch Donald Trump ally and founder of the MyPillow company, became a prominent voice and financial backer in attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election and, alongside Trumpist attorneys Lin Wood and Sidney Powell, made a series of false allegations that China and others somehow hacked voting machines and swung the 2020 election to Joe Biden.
“He has doubled down and tripled down. He has made himself a higher public profile with his documentary,” Tom Clare, an attorney representing Dominion, told The Daily Beast on Tuesday afternoon. Clare confirmed in a brief phone call that Dominion would be filing suit against Lindell “imminently.”
The suit would make Lindell the third pro-Trump figure sued by Dominion after the company filed $1.3 billion suits against attorneys Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani.
When reached for comment on Tuesday, Lindell was, characteristically, defiant. “That would so make my day because then they would have to go into discovery, and that would make my job a lot easier,” he said in a phone interview. “It’ll be faster for me to get to the evidence, and to show the people in the public record the evidence we have about these machines… I will not stop until every single person on the planet knows, whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, what these machines did to us.”
”These machines need to be removed, and [these people] brought to justice for what they did to our country in these attacks,” he continued. “If they sue me, I would be so happy.”
Dominion sent letters to Lindell in December and January demanding that he retract false claims that the company’s software stole "millions of votes from” then-President Donald Trump and inaccurately tallied votes in the key battleground states of Georgia and Arizona.
Despite the legal threats, Lindell has continued undaunted in his pursuit of election conspiracy theories. …
Oh, please. Bring it on. Sung to the tune of the movie theater ditty: Let’s all go to deposing, deposing, deposing …